For years I have been on a Campaign to reclaim Memorial Day and have purposed to educate and encourage people to go back to the reason that we as a Nation set apart Memorial Day. It is a solemn remembrance of our heroes through the centuries who sacrificed their lives on the battlefield for the freedoms we enjoy every day.
I have made suggestions of ways Americans could do this and thought I would share with you how this past weekend I remembered and honored those who gave everything for me.
My weekend started Friday afternoon with a presentation at the Colonade Retirement Community in Surprise, AZ. The majority of the crowd was prior Vets and as I shared Marc’s heroic story, there were many teary-eyed listeners, trying to contain their emotions. As I spoke about Memorial Day and looked into their eyes it was if a window to their souls had opened. They were thinking of their buddies whose names were on a Memorial Wall and had not returned home from Korea or Vietnam. No reminder was needed for them to Honor and Remember; they carried that loss with them every day.
Saturday morning found me on a flight to Austin, Texas to speak at Lake Hills Church, where Governor Perry attends. The last time I was in Austin was to bury Chris Kyle, one of Marc’s teammates who was like a son to me. In route from the airport to the hotel I stopped at Texas Memorial Cemetery to visit Chris’ grave and place flowers there. It had been raining and the grounds were wet and there was a freshness in the air.
It is so hard to explain the first time you go back to visit the grave after you have buried a loved one. I knew that I wanted to stay for a bit, but the ground was wet. I stood and just remembered what a gift Chris was to me and how he chose to honor Marc, his fallen brother and take care of his Mother. I wanted to be closer so I sat on the soaked ground. The tears began to flow, knowing that not just Chris’ family, his teammates or I had lost a special man, but that it was all of America’s loss.
It encouraged my heart to see people who didn’t seem to be visiting a specific person wandering through the cemetery and reading names on headstones in the military section. “Yes” I thought this is one of the things I have encouraged people to do on Memorial Day weekend to remember the sacrifices.
I didn’t have the chance at Chris’ funeral to wander through the cemetery so I took the time to do that. There were seven Medal of Honor Recipients, a Memorial to the Texas Gold Star Mothers, and heroes from every conflict who had been killed in Action. It was a beautiful peaceful place with little creeks, big oaks and untold volumes of history of heroes waiting to be told.
Sunday morning I spoke at Lake Hills Church in both services and shared Marc’s heroic story and my faith in Christ that has given me the strength to carry on in the midst of the toughest pain I will ever know. I reminded people what Memorial Day was about and encouraged them to teach their children.
I jumped on a flight that afternoon to Dallas and was picked up by Kevin another one of my “adopted boys.” His family was in Texas for the week, to honor and remember Chris’ and check in on Chris’ family. We headed to a nearby park where the Carry the Load event was being hosted by another former SEAL.
People were walking and running in several different cities with backpacks, symbolizing carrying their fallen loved ones, teammates or friends who had sacrificed their lives serving our country. Chris” parents and brother were there and we had planned to meet up. In the midst of pain and loss bonds between families of the fallen produces an instant connection. Knowing the loss of a son is not the reason we wished would have brought us together, but it brings comfort to know someone else understands. We greeted them as they finished their first 7 mile loop in memory of their son. About midnight that evening after I changed my heels for tennis shoes, I walked a 7 mile loop with Kevin to honor Marc, each SEAL who fell and on behalf of every Mother who has lost a son in combat.
Debbie Lee at the Dallas Carry the Load Remembrance Event
Kevin and I then jumped in our vehicle and drove about 40 miles to where another SEAL and “adopted son,” Ryan Parrot was running 100 miles in a 24 hour period to honor and remember the fallen. He was at 56 mile point and the experienced marathoner who was running with him had gone into kidney failure and had to be taken to the hospital. This was discouraging for Ryan and we were going for moral support and Kevin had decided spontaneously he would run the last 30 miles with Ryan. No preparation, and after an intense weight workout and a 7 mile walk earlier that evening. These SEALs are a rare breed that’s for sure.
Ryan was in the RV receiving medical attention when we arrived and he didn’t look good at all. He saw me and in exhaustion with as much exuberance as he could muster said “Momma Lee.” It was at that point that I saw a little spark in his eye. We were just the moral boost that he needed. I was pleased that I had done 7 miles, I can’t imagine 70 let alone 100 miles. I am proud to tell you that Ryan finished the 100 miles.
Ryan Parrot Honors the Fallen with His Grueling 100 Mile Run
Throughout the day on Monday I received numerous texts and emails with pictures of Marc’s headstone attached as friends and teammates visited Marc’s grave to remember the amazing man he was and how he had impacted the lives of so many. I am so grateful for all of those who friends and patriots who let me know they remembered Marc and would never forget his sacrifice.
Monday afternoon I was honored to attend with Chris’ family the dedication of the American Legion in Midlothian, Chris’ hometown, to the Chris Kyle Post. Another one of those bittersweet moments, as we would much rather have our loved ones with us than to have their name on a Memorial Wall, building, movie or book. Yet if we have heroes who sacrifice so much we must honor them and keep their memories alive. We owe it to them.
in Midlothian, Texas with the Kyle Family
I trust that most of you purposed to do something this past weekend to honor and remember those who gave their final breath for you. If not I would challenge you next year to establish new habits that will “Remember and Honor” not celebrate Memorial Day.
Remembering their Sacrifice,
Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee
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So go ahead and tweet us a troop picture or support message @M_A_F and you just might find your tweet featured in one of our upcoming newsletter!
Calling all Troops!
Signing up to receive packages is easy!
If you are deployed or have the address of a deployed military member, you can click here for our Military Sign Up Center to sign them up to receive one of our great care packages loaded with plenty of the TLC our soldiers need to remind them that people back home support their mission.
If you prefer, copy this link ( http://www.moveamericaforward.org/soldier-sign-up/ ) and e-mail it to your soldier so they can sign up themselves. Once the soldier has registered they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring Americans like you.
St. Mary’s 5th Grade Students Honor our Deployed Troops
At St. Mary’s School in Los Gatos, CA, Outreach is an important component of their curriculum. Typically most of their outreach activities involve helping out the local community in some positive way. However, for one of their projects this year, St. Mary’s 5th grade class decided to reach to be a little further. “We wanted to let the brave servicemen and women still fighting to protect our freedom know that we have not forgotten them…that we are keeping them in our thoughts…and praying for their safe return home to their family and friends. We wanted to make cards to show them our appreciation and what better organization to make this happen than MAF!” said class mom Sue Bozzini. Sue contacted us at Move America Forward and we agreed to include the beautiful hand-made cards with our Memorial Day Care Packages being sent to the troops – the perfect opportunity to show the troops how much the students at St. Mary’s care!
This wasn’t just a last minute effort on the 5th grade’s part either, “We set aside time for 4 weeks to work on our cards. While the students were creating their cards, we asked them three questions:
1) Why are we doing this?
2) Why is this important?
3) How does this project make you feel?
Their answers truly blew us away!” said Bozzini. “The students could not stop raising their hands to give us their thoughts and opinions.” In the words of the students:
Why are we doing this? ” So the troops can feel they have not been forgotten; we know their families are worried, we want them to do their best – to know they have our support; they are making a difference – they are not doing this for nothing; they are risking their lives to save people they don’t even know; I want to bring a smile to their faces – there’s a reason they are doing what they’re doing; we don’t want them to feel lonely; we’re supporting them; for America!”!
Why is this important? ” It makes them feel appreciated – they are taking this huge risk away from their family and friends; help keep their spirits up; help them remember why they are there; it’s the right thing to do; it’s what God wants us to do; provide comfort to them while they’re away from home; puts things into perspective for me – we all have bad days but at home we are safe but the troops are always in danger; it makes me feel so fortunate; it’s like a ‘un’ birthday for a soldier – an unexpected surprise gift; if they don’t know that people care, they might just give up – but, if we show them WE care, hopefully that will motivate them to keep going!”
How does it make you feel to write these letters? ” It makes me feel good inside; makes me feel happy; makes me feel good but bad too because I feel greedy – I have so much and they are sacrificing so much; puts a smile on my face thinking I’m putting one on theirs; I like envisioning someone else reading my card; makes me want to do something more knowing that every little thing makes a difference; motivates me; I feel really good knowing I’ve done something good; and finally, it makes me feel a little important – like maybe this could be the one thing that keeps them going!”
“Our 5th grade class wants to extend a HUGE thank you to our troops and to MAF for giving us this opportunity to show the troops how much we care! Land of the Free because of the Brave…God Bless America!!” concluded Bozzini.
Although we have already shipped out our care packages containing the special cards from the students of St. Mary’s, it’s not too late to take the time to send a package (hot link this with newsletter ordering tag) to a soldier still waiting for a gift from home with your own special message of love and support.
Troopathon 6 adds Governor Mike Huckabee and
Breitbart Editor Larry O’Connor as Hosts!
We are excited to announce Governor Mike Huckabee and Larry.O’Connor will join our long-time hosts Move America Forward co-founder & San Francisco radio talk show great Melanie Morgan and Gold Star Mom and Move America Forward’s own Debbie Lee to host the 8-hour Troopathon 6 broadcast live from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Orange County. California!
Past Troopathon events have raised over $3.6 million for our troops. Last year, Troopathon raised over $500,000 but we’d like to break that total this year!!
You can view the live stream at www.troopathon.org on June 27th!
Live will kick off with returning host Melanie Morgan and her co-hosts. We’re still in the process of lining up this year’s guests, but you can be sure there will be some great names like past year’s guest list which included Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight and syndicated radio and television host Rush Limbaugh.
Gold Star mom, Debbie Lee will be returning to share her story about her son Marc Lee – Marc was the first Navy Seal to die during the war in Iraq. She has dedicated her life to supporting our troops and has done so with dignity and patriotism. Learn more about what Debbie is up to now in our “Debbie’s Corner” monthly newsletter feature..
Don’t forget to check out how you can win a Stag Arms AR-15 Rifle in our Troopathon 6 Sweepstakes
Life can be busy, so remember to save the date now! We will be sending out emails, posting on Facebook, and Tweeting to keep you posted as we line up this year’s exciting guest list, so if you haven’t already, add us on Facebook and Twitter now. And as always, thank you for standing behind our troops and offering them the support they deserve!
Move America Forward is offering a FREE GUN GIVEAWAY to help promote our Troopathon fundraiser for the troops. This is an exciting new way to really spread the word about Troopathon by giving people an incentive – a chance to win a free AR rifle from STAG ARMS one of the leading tactical rifle manufacturers in the world!
PLEASE HELP US by blogging about this on your own websites and social media followings! Sign yourself up, and get everyone who follows you to sign up! Then tune in on June 27th to see who wins and also to see how much money we can raise to support our troops in Afghanistan!
Here’s the link to our entry form page: http://www.troopathon.org/sweepstakes
Let’s Hear it for the Red, White and Blue!
Friday June 14th is National Flag Day, let’s remember to show our pride by flying Old Glory at our homes and business establishments. As our way of celebrating Flag Day, Move America Forward will include an enamel United States Flag lapel pin with each package ordered on that day and with all of our Father’s Day packages.
Hat’s Off to You Dad!
Ask any service man how many milestone events in their lives they have missed due to deployment and without batting an eye, you will hear tales from these dads who have missed the birth of a child, countless birthdays and anniversaries, graduations and holiday’s like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sure, you might detect the wistful look in their eye as they recount the wonder of meeting their child for the first time after a long hard tour away from home, but you will also note the unmistakable tone of satisfaction which comes only from knowing that their sacrifice makes a difference. Many of our Deployed Dads will be celebrating Father’s Day alone this year, and for some it may be their very first Father’s Day as a dad.
They are proud to do their job, making sure their kids and everyone else’s are being watched over and protected by the greatest troops the world has ever known.
Let’s make sure these brave dads are looked after too! We are delighted to announce our FATHER’S DAY care packages are ready to order on our website!
Don’t wait! Father’s Day is June 15th and we want to make sure these brave heroes will have a package in hand to remind them how much they are appreciated! You will even be able to include your own heart-felt message of support!
Join us in Honoring our Dads this Father’s Day!.
HMH 461 Sends Thanks for their Package